How partisan bickering sabotaged America's Middle East policy

Benghazi’s Meaning: As Amy Davidson correctly noted in The New Yorker this week, Washington’s response to months of investigation on the ground in Libya and Egypt by Times reporters Kirkpatrick, Suliman Ali Zway, Osama Alfitori, and Mayy El Sheikh quickly devolved into a useless debate over the term “al Qaeda.”

Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)—eager to undermine Obama administration statements that core al Qaeda has been weakened—insisted that the group involved in the attack “claims an affiliation with al Qaeda,” as if that was the same as an actual relationship with core al Qaeda’s remaining leaders.

Fox News commentator and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer dismissed the story as an effort “to protect Hillary [Clinton].” Fox News terrorism analyst Walid Phares absurdly argued that Kirkpatrick was “known to side with Islamists.”

The broad message from the left, meanwhile, was that the United States only makes things worse in the Middle East when it acts there. On MSNBC, Karen Finney said the story exonerated the Obama administration because it found that a fake Hollywood video mocking the Prophet Muhammad did, in fact, help spark the attack.